Staff Editorial: Delta variant raises concerns

Masks should be required for spectators at outdoor events


Grace Stillman

Student section cheers after a touchdown while wearing the all-orange dress code Sept. 24. Park won its homecoming game against crosstown rival Benilde St. Margaret.

The highly infectious delta variant of COVID-19 has become the new cause for concern in this pandemic — now representing more than 99 percent of cases tracked in the country. Large school events, such as sports games, provide an opportunity to transmit the virus amongst students. Being that Park does not currently have a mask mandate for outdoor events, a question is raised — should there be?

Outdoor sporting events, primarily football games, attract large crowds of students. Transmission rates are much lower when people are outdoors, but catching COVID-19 is still certainly a possibility. In fact, Park announced their first official COVID-19 case Friday, Sept. 24. 

High school students will sometimes assume that they are in the clear when it comes to contracting a bad case of the virus, but this is not true. In reality, COVID-19 can harm anybody no matter their age. Masks can be an effective solution to stop the spread.

In a lot of situations, masks are said to be “recommended.” For example, when going to a store, there are often signs that recommend customers to wear a facial covering. Whenever this is the case, few people will go out of their way to grab a mask. For most people, masks need to be explicitly required for them to comply. 

For this reason, the Echo Editorial Board believes that masks should be required for spectators at outdoor events. Though student compliance may not yield the best of results, it should still limit the amount of exposure. A mask mandate at sports games would be effective to some extent, even if a good amount of people would not comply. When masks are explicitly required, more people will wear them in fear of being the odd one out.

For players out on the field, keeping a mask on properly during the game is near impossible with all the movement. This was never an expectation for them. But for spectators in the crowd, masks are more convenient to wear. 

Additionally, anybody in a position of authority, such as administrators and coaches, has a social responsibility to set an example by wearing their masks. If students see others doing this, it is likely they will follow suit. 

Overall, the delta variant poses a threat to students and administration alike. Transmission can occur anywhere, anytime — sports games are no exception. The Echo Editorial Board feels the best way to proceed is to require spectators to mask up at outdoor events.